Order 1V-411 Full Text











ORDER NO. 1V-411

DOCKET NO. 1305-OV-09




(Pursuant to Rule 522.b.(3) of the Rules and Regulations of the

Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, 2 CCR 404-1)




1.            During the period relevant to this enforcement action, Antero Resources Piceance Corporation, now reorganized as Antero Resources Corporation through subsequent merger and name changes (“Antero”) operated 36 wells on five well pads in the floodplain of the Colorado River in the Silt/Rifle area. These pads include the Island Park Pad, River Ranch A Pad, River Ranch B Pad, River Ranch C Pad, and Robinson A Pad.


2.            Antero constructed a water pipeline (Pipeline) to connect these well pads in September 2009. The Pipeline was placed into service by the end of September 2009. The Pipeline transported produced water containing dissolved hydrocarbons and frac fluids from the River Ranch, Robinson and Island Park pads to the Wasatch Bench Pond [facility id 149020] (also known as Brynildson Water Storage Facility) [location id 414907].  


3.            The Pipeline lies beneath a private road having restricted access near the boundary between Sections 6 and 7, Township 6 South, Range 92 West, 6th P.M., in Garfield County, just north of Interstate 70.


4.            Grant Brothers Construction LLC, (“Grant Brothers”) operates a gravel mine immediately west of the Pipeline. The sand and gravel pit, known as the Loesch Pit (aka Grant Brothers Gravel Pit) has operated under a mining permit from the Colorado Department of Mine Reclamation and Safety (DRMS), permit # M1981068, since 1981.  The Loesch Pit occupies portions of Lots 6 and 7, the SWSE ¼ and SESE ¼ of Section 7, Township 6 South, Range 92 West, 6th P.M. 


5.            On July 27, 2010, Doug Grant contacted the COGCC Staff to complain that he had observed “a paraffin-like substance” with a “strong condensate smell” leaking into his gravel pit from the eastern wall (Complaint No. 200266651). 


6.             Antero undertook response actions, stopped the flow from the Pipeline, intercepted and diverted all released water from potentially impacting the Colorado River, and reported the release to all applicable regulatory agencies the same day the release was discovered.


7.            On July 28, 2010, the release point was identified as a faulty weld in a pipe joint of the water Pipeline used to transfer produced water and water for fracture stimulations to and from the River Ranch A and B Pads and the Robinson A Pad. The compromised weld allowed produced water to migrate into the underlying alluvium through a pinhole leak. The produced water eventually came into contact with the groundwater which flows towards and exits at an artificial seep at the gravel pit west of the Pipeline.  Antero later reported that the produced water typically contains 400-800 parts per million (ppm) oil in water as an emulsion.


8.            On August 3, 2010, Antero reported its ongoing remediation efforts to the COGCC and to the Grant Brothers. Antero reported that between the time of the discovery on the afternoon of July 27, 2010, and August 1, 2010, about 3,750 barrels of impacted water had been collected using a vacuum truck. Antero continued its collection efforts, capturing [language deleted] the impacted water, until completion of its 2012 excavation project described herein.


9.            On August 18, 2010, Antero submitted a Form 27 Site Investigation and Remediation Workplan, which was approved by the COGCC (Remediation Project No. 5171).


10.         Between August 31, 2010 and September 2, 2010, Antero conducted an initial round of monitoring well sampling.  This sampling revealed benzene and toluene levels in excess of one or more of the allowable concentrations under Table 910-1 for 5 out of the 16 monitoring wells.  The sampling showed one well having benzene levels of up to 4,400 µg/l; toluene levels of up to 9,200 µg/l; and total xylenes of up to 4,900 µg/l, a second well having levels at approximately half these readings, and the other three wells showing only exceedances of benzene, at significantly lower concentrations.


11.         On August 31, 2010, COGCC issued Notice of Alleged Violation 200268806 (“NOAV”) to Antero alleging violation of the following rules: [Language deleted.]


a.         Rule 209, which requires operators to exercise due care in the protection of coal seams and water-bearing formations, with special precautions taken in drilling wells to guard against any loss of artesian water from the stratum in which it occurs and the contamination of fresh water by objectionable water, oil, or gas; 


b.         Rule 324A.a., which requires operators to take precautions to prevent significant adverse environmental impacts to air, water, soil, or biological resources to the extent necessary to protect public health, safety and welfare and to prevent the unauthorized discharge of E&P waste;


c.         Rule 324A.b., which provides that no operator, in the conduct of any oil or gas operation, shall perform any act or practice which shall constitute a violation of water quality standards or classifications established by CDPHE-WQCC for waters of the state;


 d.        Rule 901.f., which requires that operations in sensitive areas shall incorporate adequate measures and controls to prevent significant adverse environmental impacts and ensure compliance with the concentration levels in Table 910-1, with consideration to WQCC standards and classifications;


e.         Rule 906.e.(2), which requires that operators determine the cause of a spill/release, and, to the extent practicable, implement measures to prevent spills/releases due to similar causes in the future. For reportable spills, operators are required to submit this information to the Director on the Spill/Release Report, Form 19, within ten days after discovery of the spill/release.


f.          Rule 907.a.(1), which requires that operators shall ensure that E&P waste is properly stored, handled, transported, treated, recycled, or disposed to prevent threatened or actual significant adverse environmental impacts to air, water, soil or biological resources or to the extent necessary to ensure compliance with allowable concentration levels in Table 910-1, with consideration of WQCC ground water standards and classifications; and


g.         Rule 907.a.(2), which requires that E&P waste management activities shall be conducted, and facilities constructed and operated, to protect the waters of the state from significant adverse environmental impacts from E&P waste.


Staff has voluntarily dismissed the Rule 209 and Rule 906 alleged violations.


12.       The NOAV required the following abatement actions to be completed by September 10, 2010:


a.         Develop a Form 27 Site Investigation and Remediation Work Plan (Rule 906.d) in consultation with the COGCC.  Include a monitoring and abatement plan based on delineation.


b.         Delineate the horizontal and vertical extent of the release including evaluation of gravel pit liner's and dewatering pump's influence on contaminant plume.


c.         Collect analytical samples at seep, each separate settling pond, and CDPHE outfall on a daily basis for a minimum of BTEX/TPH, TDS, CL analysis until such time the COGCC agrees that frequency can be reduced.


d.         Collect an analytical sample weekly at the CDPHE outfall for Volatiles/Semi Volatiles (8260/8270), anions/cations, sulfates, pH, and TDS for minimum of 2 months or until the COGCC agrees to reduction in analytical suite and/or frequency, then twice-monthly sampling for 6 months, evaluate at that time. 


e.         Consult with Grant Brothers, CDPHE and DNR-Reclamation Mining and Safety to maintain compliance with existing Grant Brothers' permits.


f.          Conduct chemical analysis of produced water and condensate that was in the Pipeline based on chemical inventory receipts and MSDS sheets for all wells connected to the Pipeline. 


g.           Provide construction date, pipeline design and integrity testing records for the Pipeline.


h.         Inform landowners of ongoing work and subsequent results of the work being conducted and provide regular status updates.


i.          Provide chemical inventory sheets for all wells connected to the Pipeline per Rule 205.


13.       On October 21, 2010 Antero conducted a pothole assessment by digging sampling holes at several locations, revealing that hydrocarbon contamination present in the soils at those locations was in seasonal contact with shallow groundwater.  This pothole assessment was conducted consistent with the Form 27 Work Plan submitted by Antero on September 30, 2010.


14.       In 2011, Antero proceeded to perform an in-situ chemical oxidation (“ISCO”) pilot project for the purpose of hydrocarbon source reduction in impacted soil, with Staff approval.  In a presentation made to Staff to discuss the ISCO pilot project results on September 2, 2011, Antero estimated the initial impacted groundwater extent to be within an area approximately 150 ft by 190 ft.  COGCC staff agreed with the estimate of aerial extent. Antero and Staff estimated the impacted area to be localized within a three and five feet zone. 


15.       On September 19, 2011, a soil sample taken as part of a quarterly monitoring effort from an area with observed paraffin seepage from the east wall of the gravel pit revealed total petroleum hydrocarbons (“TPH”) concentrations in soils in excess of allowable levels.  BTEX compounds from the same sample event were all within allowable levels.


16.       The parties have concluded that a release from the produced water Pipeline segment west of the Robinson A pad and east of the Loesch Gravel Pit was the source of the contamination detected emanating from soils and in groundwater seeping from the eastern Loesch Gravel Pit wall on July 27, 2010.


17.       Antero initiated excavation of the remaining impacted soil pursuant to an approved Form 27 on September 10, 2012. The remediation work was completed on September 28, 2012. The approved Form 27 requires four consecutive quarterly groundwater and soil samples showing compliance with Table 910-1 standards. The quarterly sampling efforts performed to date have revealed compliance with Table 910-1 standards.


18.  In addition to Antero’s four quarters of sampling demonstrating ongoing and continuous compliance with Table 910-1 standards, the COGCC also conducted confirmatory soil and water sampling at the request of the landowner. 


            a.         On October 23, 2013, COGCC, through an independent third party contractor, and following consultation with the landowner, conducted soil sampling on a larger area of irrigated cropland adjacent to the site.  Again, all results from this sampling are in compliance with COGCC Table 910-1 standards. Additionally, the report for this sampling stated that the contractor does not find evidence linking the release to any suspected adverse impacts to the irrigated cropland.


b.            On December 30, 2013, COGCC, through an independent third party contractor, conducted surface water sampling at two surface water locations between the site and the Colorado River.  All results from this sampling are in compliance with COGCC Table 910-1 standards, and again the contractor’s report found a lack of any link between the release and any suspected adverse impacts to surface water systems.


19.  On March 10, 2014, after reviewing the available data and consulting with COGCC staff,  the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a statement confirming “that no reasonable potential exists for this discharge to exceed potential limitations for organic parameters in the receiving stream.”


20. On March 26, 2014, COGCC staff determined that no further action for the remediation and NOAV is required.


21.       Rule 523. specifies a base fine of one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each day of violation of each of Rules 324A, 901, and 907.  Rule 523.a.(3) specifies that “the maximum penalty for any single violation shall not exceed Ten Thousand dollars ($10,000) regardless of the number of days of such violation,” unless the violation results in significant waste of oil and gas resources, damage to correlative rights, or a significant adverse impact on public health, safety or welfare or the environment. Staff alleges significant adverse impact on public health, safety or welfare or the environment. Because the base fine for these violations is set at $1000 per day of violation, the aggravating factors set forth in Rule 523.d. are not applicable by their terms.


22.       The parties agree to calculate a fine in this matter based on consolidating alleged violations of Rules 324A, 901, and 907 into a single violation of Rule 324A., for failing to manage exploration and production wastes, and otherwise act in a manner to prevent significant adverse impact to the environment.

23.       The exact date of the release of the E&P waste from the pipeline, and the volume of E&P waste released from the pipeline, are not known. 

[Paragraph deleted, paragraphs renumbered accordingly.]

24.       The parties agree to resolve this enforcement action with a fine of $150,000.


[Paragraph deleted, paragraphs renumbered accordingly.]


25.       Pursuant to Article IX of the “Memorandum of Agreement” between the Water Quality Control Division (“WQCD”) and the COGCC, adopted February 15, 2000, COGCC Staff conferred with WQCD enforcement staff in determining the monetary penalty against Antero for violations of WQCC standards for surface waters (including any subsurface water to the extent there exists a hydrological connection between the surface and the subsurface water.)  WQCD indicated it agrees with the fine and the terms of this AOC and will not pursue any additional penalty.


26.       Pursuant to Rule 522.c.(3), Antero agrees to the findings of this AOC as amended herein, for the purpose of expeditiously resolving the matter without a contested hearing, and agreement to this AOC as amended herein, shall not constitute an admission of the alleged violations or fault for any other purpose. Antero fully reserves its right to contest any factual or legal determinations set forth in this Order in any future action or proceeding other than a proceeding to enforce this AOC.






1.            Antero is found to be in violation of Rule 324A. This matter shall be referred to as the Antero Pipeline Release and no longer referred to as the Gravel Pit Release.


2.            Antero is assessed a fine of $150,000 in settlement of this action. [Language deleted.] The Commission acknowledges that this penalty has already been paid.


3.            Payment of the fine pursuant to this AOC does not relieve Antero from its obligations to complete abatement or corrective actions set forth in the NOAV, as may be amended or modified by Staff.


4.            Antero, or its successors or assigns, shall remain responsible for complying with this AOC.


5.            The Commission considers this order to be final agency action for purposes of judicial review 30 days after the date this order is mailed by the Commission.


6.            The provisions contained in the above order shall become effective immediately.


7.            The Commission expressly reserves its right after notice and hearing, to alter, amend, or repeal any and/or all of the above orders.      


RECOMMENDED this  25th       day of April, 2013.

AMENDMENT RECOMMENDED this 11th day of April 2014.








            Peter J. Gowen, Enforcement Officer 


AGREED TO AND ACCEPTED this 28th  day of April, 2013.

AMENDMENT AGREED TO AND ACCEPTED this _____ day of April, 2014.







Signature of Authorized Antero Representative



            Print Signatory Name



            Title of Signatory



ENTERED this 7th  day of May, 2013, as of the  6th day of May, 2013.

Amended Order ENTERED this           day of May, 2014, as of the  28th day of April, 2014.








            Robert J. Frick, Secretary